Sitting on the northwestern tip of Africa and exhibiting the impact of centuries as a melting pot of African, European and Arabian cultures, Morocco seems so exotic yet is surprisingly accessible. A conscious push to welcome airlines and visitors from key markets such as the US, Canada and European countries means the allure of Morocco has never been closer.
Morocco is a safe country with a great tourism infrastructure, a fascinating heritage, breathtaking nature, friendly locals and plenty more to discover at your own pace. Whether you are feeling nostalgic about the hippy trail of the swinging sixties, want to spoil yourself with a wellness retreat, learn a new sport or hobby or you relish the challenge of walking and hiking in stunning mountain scenery, Morocco has something for you!
Sunrise in the Sahara
When someone mentions “Morocco”, often the first image that springs to mind are camel trains swaying across the great Sahara desert. An overnight stay under the vast starry skies of the desert to see the sun rise over the sand dunes is a once-in-a-lifetime experience. The more adventurous traveler might opt for a camel-back ride to a typical camp of nomads’ tents around a campfire. The more comfortable option is riding in a 4×4 vehicle to a luxury desert camp complete with pool and spa. The choice is yours! Morocco has two main dune complexes accessible to tourists, at Erg Chebbi and Erg Chigaga.
Many people claim that the authentic Moroccan culture can only be experienced in rural areas, many of which are mountainous. Morocco has four main mountain ranges, the Middle, High and Anti-Atlas Mountains, plus the Rif Mountains near the Mediterranean coast. North Africa’s highest peak, Mount Toubkal, is located in the High Atlas range. Standing at 13,671 ft (4,167 meters), it offers great opportunities for walking and trekking. The mountains are enjoyable, however, even for the less energetic – short walks or mule rides in the foothills are adequate to discover the customs and welcome of the indigenous Berber people and their lifestyle based around agriculture and small village settlements. Spring (February – April) is a great time to visit, when the fruit trees are in full blossom.
Culture and cuisine in the cities
The names of Morocco’s largest cities – Casablanca, Fez, Marrakesh – conjure up images of bygone eras. Some aspects of the ancient medinas (old, walled cities) have not changed for centuries and a walking tour around Fez, for example, is like a trip back to the Middle Ages. The old cities offer the opportunity to see traditional artisans such as leatherworkers, cabinet makers, metal beaters and blacksmiths at work as well as the chance to try your hand at haggling in the souks (markets). This could also be the time to sample a local hammam (public bathhouse) or a luxurious up-market spa. You can visit the palaces of sultans and the neighbourhoods of their Jewish traders. You could also have a go at making traditional Moroccan cuisine, such as tajines (hotpots cooked in a cone-shaped dish), couscous or delicate almond pastries at a cookery school. You might choose to stay in a riad guesthouse – a converted historical townhouse with all modern conveniences that gives you a glimpse into how Moroccans lived in the medina. A visit to a Moroccan medina is an assault on all the senses!
Sun, sand and sports on Morocco’s coasts
Morocco has two coastlines: the windswept Atlantic and the warmer, more tranquil Mediterranean. The former, with big resorts such as Agadir or smaller ports such as Essaouira or Oualidia, offers plenty of outdoor pursuits for the active traveler from golf to horse-back riding, quad-biking to bird-watching, surfing to yoga. Agadir also has its fair share of five-star hotel complexes for those who seek a more relaxed vacation sunbathing beside the pool. The Mediterranean is a coast of contrasts. Tangiers is a large, international city with a checkered history staring straight across the Straits of Gibraltar at Spain. Further east, the coast is dotted with quiet fishing ports and sleepy villages, flanking swanky resorts for the Moroccan middle classes. On either coastline, you will sample the very freshest fish and seafood – in Essaouira try sardines or in Oualidia hunt down local oysters.
Pack Your Bags
If this whistle-stop tour of Morocco’s mountains, cities, coasts and deserts has whetted your appetite, check out our eight top tips for older travelers when planning their trip to Morocco and get in touch to discuss your itinerary requirements. We would love to help you create the perfect Moroccan vacation.